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REVIEW: Man of the Year by Lisa Ruff

Dear Mrs Ruff,
Having read the glowing review of your first book at The Romance Reader, I decided to take a chance. After all, who doesn’t want to read about buff men paid lots of money to stay in buff condition while they live the American dream – getting paid to play a sport? But though I like lots of things about it, it’s not going to get as high a grade from me.

Man Of The Year by Lisa RuffSamantha James’ introduction to her advertising company’s newest client’s employees is one lots of women might enjoy. The locker room of the Seattle Rainiers is packed with handsome men in various states of undress when Samantha is lead through on her way to meet their manager. Afterwards, he takes the time to introduce her to all the players including pitcher Jarrett Corliss. I was impressed with the fact that you don’t have any of these men act in stereotypical “get this broad out of here – women have no place in sports!” ways. They accept her as professional paid to revamp the Rainiers poor public image, to get fans interested in the team again and thus help pay for their salaries. Sure, some of them try and impress her with their machismo but that’s just men.

The one who really wants to impress her and see just how long her legs are is Jarrett. He makes his play then is irked when Samantha refuses his offer of dinner and acts chummy with a man Jarrett sees as the team’s worst womanizer. You’ve given Samantha good reasons for both as 1) the team owner has hired her to erase the scandalous image of the Rainiers and any dating between her employees and team members could get her fired from the contract and 2) Boomer is her younger brother. I was a bit puzzled by some cryptic references to a past bad relationship between Samantha and a ball player that never got explained. Or did I misread this?

Anyway, the conflict between Jarrett’s repeated attempts to date Samantha and her refusals is a believable one. He wants to explore the spark and attraction he senses between them and she has banked her small company’s financial future on this mega contract that will require them to turn down most other jobs. But Samantha can’t help enjoying the fact that this handsome man keeps pursuing her and both of us eventually gave him props for the way he gets her to agree to a first date.

I began to get irritated as the book progressed and we get the same scene played out. Jarrett marches into Samantha’s presence and announces they have to talk about their relationship, Samantha reminds him of the no scandal contract her company has with the team, Jarrett ignores that or plays it down, Samantha says no to his offers, Jarrett exits vowing to keep pressuring her into dates. I did feel the heat between them, I could understand Jarrett wanting to explore that and Samantha being attracted to him but got bored with the way it played out. Plus when she agrees to marry him, how much does she really know about the man or he about her? True you have them wait until the end of the pennant race to actually think about the ceremony but when the question is asked and the answer given, they’re still basically just in extreme like/lust with each other.

I liked watching Samantha at her job. She’s intelligent, competent, has good people working for her and manages her company well. When she first meets Jarrett, she doesn’t melt into a puddle of drool nor does she trip over any piles of bats or gloves because she can’t keep her eyes off his manly chest. She’s also shrewd enough to turn the publicity tables on Jarrett. I think you handled the problem between Samantha and Boomer nicely. There’s no heavy handed foreshadowing and no miraculous saves for him once the damage is done. Jarrett does what he can but I like that you limit his results to what he could probably push and get away with. In my opinion, Boomer screwed up and should have to pay for what he did.

When Jarrett pushes his already injured throwing arm in an effort to win the publicity stunt, I goggled. After all, this is what allows the man to earn his multi-dollar salary, is what separates him from the hundreds of thousands of weekend warriors who can only dream of a pro career and for him to risk it even to get a date with the woman he wants is beyond madness. Though I did like how he sets up his proposal (even if, as I said above, it’s too soon in their relationship for me to believe in a HEA for them).

Baseball isn’t my favorite sport so I can’t answer to whether or not the story would pass the eagle eye of a true fan but nothing jarred me out of the plot. Samantha and Jarrett act like adult and not asshats. When the chips are down, Samantha acts with poise and maturity while trying to take care of her employees. As I said, there’s a lot to like in this story and for sure I’ll be watching for your next release. B-


This book can be purchased in mass market from
or ebook format.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Deb Kinnard
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 16:56:47

    Now, this book didn’t work as well for me, though I love baseball books and secretly hanker to write one myself. The “date me”/”no, I won’t” thing between Samantha and Jarrett got old really quickly. Jarrett lost his hero-polish very early in the book, when he lies his way into a date. He acted like a jerk then and I didn’t believe in him anymore after that. Once Samantha yielded to his coercion, it made her look equally dumb IMO. And the sack-scenes seemed too fevered to read like two people genuinely in love with each other.

    I’d give the book more like a C-. Not the worst book I ever read, but one of the more boring books centered on a great sport.

  2. Jayne
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 18:34:49

    Deb I can see your POV. And situations like this are ones that can go either way for me. He did push the first date but after that, he acted pretty well. If he’d kept doing the same kind of thing, I’d have really disliked him. What I found is what I mentioned paragraph 5. After the initial date, it was the same scene replayed for the rest of the book and that got old.

    Plus the “risking his arm” stuff. But Samantha redeemed a lot with her mature attitude, work ethic and management skills. Too often in a romance novel, we’re told that a woman is a great manager/boss/employee but when something actually happens, she falls to pieces. True Jarrett had to pull few strings to get the owner to back away from his threatened firing but overall, she handles herself well.

  3. Patty L.
    Jul 31, 2008 @ 10:33:43

    I liked this story. I thought the heat between them kept the story movign forward and I found Samantha to be an intelligent herione (which is in short supply lately). IMHO I am a sucker for sport related books and I found myself wrapped up in this story.

    I will definetly keep Ms. Ruff on my authors to watch list.

  4. Jessica
    Aug 07, 2008 @ 12:32:54

    MMM. I got this at one of the RWA book signings (Harlequin, I assume). I picked it up because some authors felt bad that they got skipped over in favor of the more well known in the room. It was free, and one night months from now I’ll be desperate, but this review has not moved it to the top of the TBR pile.

  5. Bev Stephans
    Aug 19, 2008 @ 15:09:16

    I’m in the middle of reading this and can’t decide whether or not to throw it across the room or continue reading. I don’t like Jarrett. He’s a jerk of the first order!

    Players and management don’t get together before Spring Training. They get together at Spring Training. All drills, contracts, medical evaluations take place at Spring Training. This was a big fat error on the author’s part.

  6. Jayne
    Aug 19, 2008 @ 15:23:53

    Bev, I guess, one way or the other, this isn’t going to get a C grade from you. ;)

  7. Bev Stephans
    Aug 19, 2008 @ 20:06:47

    Jayne, I’ll let you know the grade when I finish it…..if I finish it!

  8. Lisa Ruff
    Aug 20, 2008 @ 10:30:51

    Thank you for taking the time to review Man of the Year. I appreciate the comments and feedback; they are helpful for a new writer like myself. My next book, Baby on Board, comes out in January. I hope you will review it as well.
    Best Regards,
    Lisa Ruff

  9. Deb Kinnard
    Aug 20, 2008 @ 11:18:40

    Lisa appears from her reply to be a class act, which will in itself make me give her second book a try. Too often we’ve seen less classy replies to reviews that aren’t A+, from other authors.

    I’ve had B- reviews and it’s hard to know, sometimes, what to shake off & what to take away, to improve your next project.

    Kudos for your ‘tude, Ms. Ruff.

  10. Jayne
    Aug 20, 2008 @ 12:41:11

    Indeed Deb. After reading the train wreck that’s currently going on with one author and having seen how other authors have responded to reviews that didn’t get an A grade, it’s refreshing.

  11. Bev Stephans
    Aug 30, 2008 @ 21:34:15

    I think Lisa Ruff was definitely a class-act in thanking you for the review. I’m just sorry that I didn’t care much for the book. To be fair, I did finish it. I too, liked Samantha doing her job. What I didn’t like, was the interaction between Samantha and Jarrett. I’m not going to grade this as I’m not sure that I could be totally objective.

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